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Exercise colic most often occurs while running and can thwart the plans to complete a competition or break records not only for amateurs, but also for professional athletes. It attacks unexpectedly and you never know how intense it will be. Learn how exercise colic develops and how to prevent it.

Exercise colic(STAGE -exercise-related transient abdominal pain ) is nothing more than abdominal pain, usually short-term, appears, as the name suggests, during exercise, e.g. running, swimming. The pain from colic is stabbing, sudden and sharp. According to the research conducted in 2009 among athletes1 , most of them experience colic on the right side of the abdomen - 58%, in 43% of the respondents exercise colic appeared on the left side, and in 21% - around the navel. Interestingly, the stress spine in the abdominal area is sometimes accompanied by pain at the top of the scapula on the same side of the body. This happens to 15% of athletes. As many as 90% of amateur athletes and 61% of professionals have experienced exercise colic at least once in their lives, although most people experience colic "only" during about 12% of activity. However, this frequency is sufficient to prevent the achievement of the sports goal. Exercise colic thwarted the plans of, among others. the world record holder in the Paula Radcliffe marathon or the Polish long-distance runner Marcin Chabowski, whom she caught during the 2014 European Championships.

Neither body weight nor gender has any influence on the incidence of exercise colic.

There were also studies on the occurrence of exercise colic among 965 people practicing various sports2 . It turned out that swimmers have to face it most often (75%), followed by runners (68%). Next are people who practice horse riding (62%) and attend fitness classes (52%).

Why are swimming and running at the forefront? This is probably related to the anaerobic processes occurring during both of these efforts, while the appearance of exercise colic during horse riding may cause repetitive vertical movements (the same is true for running). Team sports are not on the list: football, volleyball orbasketball. Scientists explain that this is because, for example, during a match, the players do not move at a constant pace all the time and often have the opportunity to slow down.

How does exercise colic develop?

Scientists have been looking for answers to the question about the causes of exercise-induced colic for many years. Nevertheless, its causes have not yet been established. There are several, often contradictory, hypotheses. The problem with determining where the stress colic comes from is that it is difficult to investigate this phenomenon, when the athlete is active, he takes part in the competition. You also never know if and when colic will occur. Exercise colic is therefore only studied and discussed on the basis of the reports of people who experienced it.

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How to get rid of colic while running? 5 ways

Although swimming is at the top of the list of the most colic-causing efforts, the group of amateur runners in Poland has grown significantly in recent years and it is they who most often look for ways to deal with colic during competition or training. So how do you deal with colic while running?

1. Slow down

Seemingly the simplest way, but runners are also very keen to avoid it - after all, slowing down or going to a walk is not the scenario they predicted for the duration of the competition. However, it is worth taking advantage of it, because although colic is a sudden pain, it can (but unfortunately does not have to) disappear just as quickly. So it is definitely better to lower the pace than to have to give up running completely afterwards.

2. Compress the pain site

Pressing the pain area with your fingers can also help - it is worth adding that you do not need to slow down your pace during the pressure.

3. Put your hands up

Another ad hoc way of fighting colic while running is to stop for a moment, raise straightened arms and breathe in. Then breathe out slowly, bent toward the painful area. Additionally, you can press the place with your fingers.

4. Inhale and exhale deeply

Try to breathe diaphragmically, i.e. take a deep breath and exhale not through the chest, but from the abdomen. Repeat this step several times.

5. Inhale deeply and exhale forcefully

Another breathing exercise that you can do if you have colic while running is to take a slow and deep breath in, hold the air for about 10 seconds, and exhale deeply. Also repeat this step several times.

Causes of stress colic

The most common causes of stress colic are:

  • diaphragm ischemia and contraction, caused by the outflow of blood to the peripheral muscles;
  • irritation of the ligaments connecting the diaphragm with the stomach, spleen and liver during diaphragm contraction - these symptoms intensify during deep breathing and repetitive vertical movements;
  • resulting from rubbing of the membranes lining the abdominal cavity and the resulting irritation of the phrenic nerve - this nerve also runs around the neck, so it could also explain the appearance of colic at the shoulder;
  • problems with the thoracic spine - in athletes with deepened thoracic kyphosis (greater back inclination of the spine in this section), stress colic is more common;
  • eating too large a meal shortly before exercise;
  • improper diet in which fatty food predominates;
  • too short or no warm-up;
  • overestimating your sports abilities - too intense effort on a specific episode;
  • electrolyte imbalance - dehydration;
  • taking medications and starting the race during illness;
  • a lot of stress before competition or training.

How to prevent exercise spike?

People who experience exercise colic, most often colic while running, indicate the following ways to overcome it:Keep an appropriate interval between a meal and starting training

If we exercise too soon after a meal, the blood vessels in the spleen or liver will constrict, which can lead to colic. In this way, the body prevents the use of all blood reserves only for the work of the muscles - after all, it also needs it for digestive processes.

Usually, it is emphasized not to eat a large meal at least 2-3 hours before training, but this issue may be different for everyone - experience will tell you at what time after a meal colic appears and will allow you to choose the right time and portions of pre-workout food.

Water instead of juiceExercise colic is more common after consuming high-osmolality foods, such as juices and sweetened drinks. So it is better to put on water or isotonic drinks both before, during and after training.

Remember to warm up

Even if you don't like her, do not forget to warm up before each workout. Not only, as the name suggests, it will warm up your muscles, but also make them more flexible, it will also allow your body to smoothly transition from rest to activity.

Sources: 1.

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